The purpose of this course is to systematically examine the elements and factors which result in an effective speech. The textbook and associated lectures present an element-by-element examination of the essentials of public speaking while also identifying traits of the individual speaker and how they impact preparation and presentation. In addition to these resources, a comprehensive series of brief videos demonstrate specific, performance-oriented aspects of public speaking. Tying each of these course elements together are the themes of information and ethics, emphasized in each resource because they are becoming increasingly important to all communicators. For example, the textbook constantly returns to the discussion of society's ever-increasing access to information and the demands on the individual to use it effectively and ethically. The authors note that "the New York Times has more information in one week than individuals in the 1800s would encounter in a lifetime," which illustrates the challenges speakers face beyond the ready-made burden of coping with the inevitable anxieties of speaking to the public. In spite of that environment, ethical communication means not only accepting responsibility for the information one presents, but also speaking up when others abuse their information platforms.
You should be aware that the textbook, Stand Up, Speak Out: The Practice and Ethics of Public Speaking, drives the content of each unit and thus will help you anticipate, absorb, and integrate the information more efficiently than the lectures. The most distinguishing trait of the textbook is the way it breaks topics down into categories and subcategories. You should notice immediately how this is presented in this first unit of the course, paying particular attention to the most frequently used word which signals such categorization, "type," because knowing the "types" a subject can be classified into is equivalent to learning the options a speaker has when strategizing about what content or technique will be effective. Lastly, you should be aware that you will have the opportunity to use the abbreviated contents from a second textbook in conjunction with many of the video lectures. Although those lectures closely follow the 10th edition of Stephen Lucas' The Art of Public Speaking, the online resources that you can access are from its 8th edition; nevertheless, you will still find that the chapter outlines, summary, and crossword puzzles in the older text are relevant and helpful tools for listening and responding to the lectures.